|Southampton 0 v 0 West Ham United|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 11th September 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V West Ham United The Preview
Friday, 10th Sep 2021 10:20
Saints host the Hammers hoping to earn the first win of the Premier League season and continue the progress made since the opening day defeat to Everton, but they do have injury issues.
Saints will be without 4 players for the visit of West Ham on Saturday, but the good news are that only two of them could have normally expected to play a part, Theo Walcott joins Stuart Armstrong in the treatment room alongside long term absentee Will Smallbone.
Thierry Small recently signed from Chelsea is not yet match fit.
Saints have looked good in part in all three of their opening Premier League fixtures, but the truth is they have failed to win any of them due to poor defending and that is where Ralph Hasenhuttl has to sort out the issue.
In goal I expect Alex McCarthy to continue, although he was dire in the opening two fixtures he looked better at Newcastle so I would be highly surprised if he was dropped for this one.
But the back line is really where Ralph needs to sort out the problem, put bluntly we have run around like headless chickens in all three games and we rely heavily on luck to make sure we aren't punished for slack play.
The first question is whether Ralph goes with a back 3 as he did in the second half against Manchester United or his usual back 4.
I would suspect that it will be the standard back four.
If that is the case then if we use the thoughts of the fans to predict the back four then most would say that he needs to put square pegs in round holes and play Kyle Walker Peters at right back, Jan Bednarek and Mohamed Salisu in the centre and Romain Peraud at left back. This would mean pushing Tino Livramento into the right midfield spot.
Most would agree this would be our strongest back line, Jack Stephens has done ok in the opening three games, but only ok and he is not consistent enough over 90 minutes to be ahead of the other options in the centre of defence.
Our new signing from Torino Lyanco could be in the running, but I suspect that at best he will be on the bench, in fact I would be surprised for him to be there, in many respects he was a strange signing, a player who at 24 was not first choice for Torino and for his age he doesn't have great experience, the question is firstly is he good enough and secondly is his English good enough ?
I would suspect that he needs a little more time to adapt before he comes into the side.
Ralph has to change the side at the back, as I said we have been ok for long periods of the games so far, but lapses have cost us dearly, 6 goals shipped in 3 games is not good enough.
In midfield as mentioned I would like to see Livramento employed to give us pace both up and down the line, I feel that he could form a great partnership with KWP on that side.
In the centre assuming they are fit there are only two choices James Ward Prowse and Oriol Romeu.
The next issue is on the left of the midfield, we have options, Moussa Djenepo has been good in the games he has played, but he has lacked an end product, at time he has been breathtaking in beating his man but he just hasn't delivered the final ball be it a cross or pass or an attempt on goal.
At Newcastle Nathan Redmond came off the bench and changed the game, many still didn't give him the credit, but those who were there saw him take on his man and both goals came from his ball into the box, a superb cross for Moi Elyounoussi for the first and then a through ball for Adam Armstrong who was brought down for the penalty.
Football is about who produces the goods and Nathan Redmond produced them at Newcastle twice and you don't get too many people do that in a game.
A third option could be the aforementioned Moi Elyounoussi, he has looked ok in the opening games but there is still a way to go before he convinces me he will become a serious contender for a regular place, but he has made a decent start in trying to prove that this season.
A fourth choice could be Nathan Tella, although I think Ralph sees him as more an attacking option up front at present.
Up front some have suggested that Armando Broja replace Che Adams based on a couple of goals against Newport and a goal for Albania, I think Broja will play a major part this season, possibly a major part in this game, but he shouldn't start ahead of Adams at present.
Adams is forming a decent partnership with Adam Armstrong that has seen them link up well and produce goals, we need to nurture that and make Broja push them for his place.
The good news is that this season I can talk about viable options, experienced options and even changes of formation, for the second half of last season I was talking about how many experienced pros we could actually put out due to injury etc and then typing names I had never heard of to go on the bench etc.
So that bodes well for the rest of the season, but we cannot avoid the issue that we still havent sorted out the centre of defence and that needs to be done and fast, it almost like last season cost us a point at Newcastle and nothing has changed at least not yet.
Photo: Action Images
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Blogs 31 bloggers
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
When Saturday Comes #5 by wessex_exile
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
When Saturday Comes #4 by wessex_exile
I start with an apology for the no-show last weekend, but for all the right reasons. My nephew and his fiancé finally managed to tie the knot on Friday, at the fifth time of asking (previous four attempts falling foul of covid restrictions unfortunately). It was a fantastic afternoon and evening over in Essex, but meant it just wasn’t possible to get a blog produced. A significant proportion of the wedding party were U’s supporters, including the groom, but any thought of live-streaming the Rochdale game at the evening celebration might have resulted in the fastest divorce on record, so we contented ourselves with surreptitious glances at the BBC Sports updates – and what an own goal it was! Different circumstances, but I was (painfully) reminded of Aidan and Kevin’s howler at Blackburn – golden rule, never, ever pass the ball directly towards your own goal.
When Saturday Comes #3 by wessex_exile
The goalless U’s have eventually got that monkey off their backs, with the Frank and Freddie show combining to win a somewhat dubious penalty, in the 5th minute of injury time, allowing Freddie to get his new goal account at the U’s off and running (all in all he now has 37 goals, five of them penalties). It was tight though, and on another day the goalkeeper would have got a hand to it, but they all count, whether it’s a 25 yard peach or one off the arse. Everyone has rightly said that without doubt Mansfield were the best side we’ve faced so far – I’ll go so far as to say they’ll probably be one of the best sides we face all season. Though it wasn’t comfortable viewing at the time, some of their passing and movement, particularly on the break, was breath-taking at times. But enough of the love-in, however good they were, the U’s stood up to them, kept them out for the most part, and eventually got the point we deserved.
When Saturday Comes #2 by wessex_exile
Two games into the season, and although still goalless, it has been a reasonably promising start for the U’s. A tough opening day fixture away at Carlisle, and in front of a bumper crowd which delayed kick-off by 15 minutes, the U’s were largely resolute in defence, whilst still creating enough chances to have won the game if our finishing had been sharper. To be fair though, were it not for prodigal son Shamal George making his return to Brunton Park, we could just have easily lost – a performance which rightly earned him the Man of the Match award. Midweek at Championship club Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup was an even more spirited performance, and one which really should have seen the U’s victorious, but if you don’t take your chances you will get punished, and we did in the 75th minute. Much has been said about the opposition being a second (third?) string side, and with players taking the field with squad numbers in the 50s, that can’t be disputed. But, when you’re facing a team that actually has squad numbers in the 50s, you realise just how big a club our opposition was.
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